The Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. H began production in June 1943 and received the designation Sd. Kfz. 161/2. The variant Ausf. H pretty much took the design to its limits, yet helping to keep the tank competitive. Between April 1943 and July 1944, a total of 3774 Panzer IV Ausf Hs were produced.
Main armament consisted of the 75mm KwK40 L/48 gun. It was an excellent all-round gun, which fired a potent high-explosive round and also had a good anti-armour performance. This was especially true at short ranges when using the PzGr40 armour-piercing, composite non-rigid round.
The integrity of the glacis armor was improved by manufacturing it as a single 80-millimetre (3.15 in) plate. To prevent adhesion of magnetic anti-tank mines, which the Germans feared would be used in large numbers by the Allies, Zimmerit paste was added to all the vertical surfaces of the tank's armor.
The vehicle's side and turret were further protected by the addition of 5-millimetre (0.20 in) side-skirts and 8-millimetre (0.31 in) turret skirts. During the Ausf. H's production run its rubber-tired return rollers were replaced with cast steel, the hull was fitted with triangular supports for the easily damaged side-skirts and the hole in the roof, designed for the Nahverteidigungswaffe, was plugged by a circular armored plate due to shortages of the weapon.
These modifications meant that the tank's weight increased to 25 tonnes (27.56 short tons). In spite of a new six-speed SSG 77 transmission borrowed from the Panzer III, cross country speed dropped to as low as 16 km/h (10 mph) on anything but hard, level surfaces. An experimental version of the Ausf H was fitted with a hydrostatic transmission but was not put into production.
In France in June 1944 most of the 748 Panzer IVs with the nine German panzer divisions were Ausf H models.
A PzKpfw IV Ausf. H of the 12th Panzer Division carrying Schürzenskirting operating on the Eastern Front in the USSR, 1944 (Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-088-3734A-19A / Schönemann)
A PzKpfw IV Ausf. H operating on the Eastern Front in the USSR, 1944 (Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-695-0406-03 / Moller)
A PzKpfw IV Ausf. H operating on the North of France, 1943/1944 (Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-298-1759-25)
A PzKpfw IV Ausf. H operating on the Eastern Front in the USSR, 1943 (Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-689-0190-07 / Kripgans)
A PzKpfw IV Ausf. H of the 12th Panzer Division operating on the Western Front, 1944 (Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-297-1722-24 / Kurth)
Officers inspect a German Mk IV tank knocked out by the Durham Light Infantry - 11 June 1944. The tank is equipped with Schürzen ("aprons"), armoured plates adopted during the Russian campaign to protect the tanks against Soviet AT rifles. In due time Schürzen became also useful to pre-detonate HEAT bazooka warheads (B 5375 - Imperial War Museums, collection no. 4700-29)
12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend Panzer IV H (Via)
Panzer IV ausf H tank, number 725, wreck in Sezze Italy, 1944 (Via)
KO German Panzer IV ausf H Liege Belgium 1944 (Via)
Panzer IV ausf H tanks (Via)
Panzer IV Ausf H Tank Eastern Front, 1943 (Via)
A Panzer IV H dug-in on the road from Caen to Lebisey, there is a rather large hole to the right of the turret (Via)
Backside of a PzKpfw IV H (Via)
Destroyed Panzerkampfwagen IV H in Normandy (Via)
Panzer IV Ausf H of "Wiking" Division (Via)
Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. H (Sd.Kfz. 161/2) "Wilma" & "Paula" #615 of 6./SS-PzRgt.12 of 12. SS Panzer-Division "Hitlerjugend" (Via)
A PzKpfw IV Ausf. H operating in Italy, 1944 (Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1986-013-06)
Panzer IV Ausf H number 312 with Schürzen and Infantry. Eastern front 1944 (Via)
Panzer IV ausf H Waffen SS 2 (Via)
A Pz Kpfw IV Ausf. H, together with two Sd Kfz 251 Ausf. D of 7. Kompanie/II. Abteilung/SS-Panzer-Regiment 2/2. SS-Panzer-Division "Das Reich". This Pz Kpfw IV Ausf. H is equipped with an extra antenna on the turret, making it a command vehicle. It has tactical number 779, and most likely belonged to Obersturmführer Karl Kloskowski. These vehicles were destroyed in Normandy in late July 1944 (Via)
PzKpfw IV Ausf. H, Turmnummer 923, Poland, August 1944 (Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-696-0427-03)
Panzer IV Ausf H of 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend, number 625 Western Front, 1944 (Via)
Wrecked German Panzer IV Ausf. H taken on St. Lo to Periers road. Panzer IV Type H tank belonging to the Panzer Lehr Division
Photo taken circa 5 August 1944 near Saint Lo, Normandy, France (Via)
Panzer IV Ausf.H, Sicily, June 1943.Tank of 15th Panzergrenadier Division. Tank repairs during the battle (Via)
An American transport truck drives by the wreckage of a Panzer IV Ausf. H in Normandy after the D-day landings (Via)
Panzer IV Ausf. H belonging 12 SS in Normandy. Command version (Via)
Panzer IV Ausf H Early - Vomag Version in Normandy (Via)
Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. H (Via)
134", a type "H" Panzer IV if the 1st Company of the 22nd Panzer-Regiment had received a hit which had punched through the plate at the front of the turret in spite of the thickness of 50 mm. A large round hole is visible below the gunners visor. Note the camouflage (Via)
Panzer IV Ausf. H used on march 1944 in Narva theatre (Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-701-0356-28)
Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. H (Sd.Kfz. 161/2) (Via)
Panzerkampfwagen IV (7,5 cm Kw.K. L/48) (Sd.Kfz. 161/2) Ausf. H. Northern part of Eastern front, probably during winter 1943-44 (Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-700-0275-16)
A knights cross recipient next to a Pz Kpfw IV Ausf. H in Jutland, Denmark. Panzer-Abteilung 55/233 (Via)
Pz Kpfw IV Ausf. H with aerial mount for an MG 34 in Viborg, Denmark. Panzer-Abteilung 55/233 (Via)